The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill

The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill

The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill

Traveling to Hawaii Needs to Slow Down

Hawaii’s rich history and breathtaking scenery draw tourists by the millions; but locals are begging for this to change.

Crystal blue waters, sandy beaches, and lush mountains. What’s not to like about Hawaii? As one of the most sought after destinations in the world, Hawaii sees around 6 million tourists per year. But despite Hawaii’s popularity, locals are begging visitors to stop coming. 

Hawaii is a collection of 137 islands sitting in the central Pacific Ocean. Some of the most popular islands to visit include Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, and it’s easy to understand their appeal. In addition to beautiful beaches, Hawaii is also home to 15 volcanoes, making up eight of their main islands. The wildlife across the islands is also a huge factor for tourism, as there are around 10,000 animal species native to Hawaii. 

When only viewing Hawaii’s breathtaking nature, the islands may seem ideal. But there cannot be a discussion of the islands without the dark history of the state. In 1893, Liliuokalani, the first and only reigning queen of Hawaii, was approached by two men threatening to overthrow her throne. Local sugar plants and businessmen were feeling pressured by her laws to restore power to the monarchy, fearing a loss of revenue. Soon after, under threat of the United States Marines, the Queen was forced to surrender the Hawaiian Kingdom to the U.S. She was imprisoned two years later, confined to a bedroom of the Iolani Palace for almost eight months.

As a result of Hawaii’s rich but grim history, locals hold immense pride for their state and preservation of their culture. And it is because of this, native Hawaiians are begging that the influx of visitors stop. With the increase in tourism comes an increase in issues. Hawaii is facing problems such as overcrowding, damage to the ecosystem, littering, and disrespect for the environment and culture. 

One specific instance of these issues was the 2023 Hawaii Wildfires. With over 100 deaths and the destruction of over 2,000 buildings, it is regarded as one of the most destructive disasters the island has seen thus far. But with tourists in the mix, natives are essentially “slapped in the face” after seeing visitors swim in the very waters that took the lives of Hawaiians hours before. Locals rightfully took offense to this, as they perceived visitors as tone deaf and arrogant for failing to respect the mourning and affected Hawaiians.

But it is no secret that tourism brings revenue to the islands. The visitor industry supports well over 200,000 jobs and contributes billions of dollars in visitor spending annually. Without the revenue of tourists, many small businesses are likely to close. However, local Hawaiian perspectives claim that the money tourism spending brings doesn’t directly benefit locals. Rather, it benefits large corporations that target visitor spending, as well as occupy much of Hawaii’s land.

When sophomore Daphne Wang was asked about the economic disparity in Hawaii, she stated, “The majority of businesses on the island that tourists shop at actually aren’t owned by Hawaiian natives. So this ends up helping corporations instead of struggling locals.”

Wang, who lived on the island of Oahu with her family, recalls her own experiences with tourists.

“The beach was packed to the brim with tourists even during COVID-19. I struggled to find anywhere outside of my home to go to, because everywhere was so crowded.” Wang added, “A lot of Hawaiians don’t have an issue with tourists. But it’s the many tourists that don’t respect the environment that gives them a bad name.”

So even with breathtaking scenery and an enviable way of living, the lands that Mark Twain described as the “loveliest fleet of islands” are flooded with new modern issues: tourists. Natives have long begged and will only continue to ask visitors to stop traveling. We can only hope that travelers start listening.


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  • J

    janet hendersonMay 25, 2024 at 3:53 PM

    Without tourist their economy would be nothing. They are part of the 50 states. The rest of us don’t get to regulate who comes and goes in our states. The fires in Maui were devastating, I get that, but every state has horrible fires where towns and communities are wiped out. I’ve been to Maui twice and I love it there and will probably go again and I guess I just don’t agree with them trying to keep everyone out. Without tourist there would be a lot more devastation there.

  • D

    Daniel JohnMay 21, 2024 at 10:52 PM

    My wife and I just returned from Oahu Sunday May 19, 2024. We were at a couple beautiful beaches, on the west side (Pray For Sets) and on the windward side near Kahaluu and probably seen no more then 2-4 families hanging out. We also shopped the local stores, small restaurants and a couple food trucks. The only corporate store we went to was 7-11 and Longs Drug for allergy meds.
    We were also there during Covid. Sept 2021. We never seen large crowds, not even at the Polynesian Culture Center.
    We have been to Oahu 3 times and to Maui one time (before the Lahaina fire) We are so sorry for the lost.

  • R

    RKapuleMay 19, 2024 at 10:12 PM

    If you’re visiting family, having been priced out, living mainland (ugh) but HI is actually home, (specifically Kona) gotta pay that fee or what? Asking for a friend. Should be exemptions for Ohana, feels like we, I mean ” they ” being punished double you know?

  • E

    Eric HansonMay 18, 2024 at 5:35 AM

    Well once the economy finally takes a dump, no one will be able to afford to travel there. It will be over soon. Normal working people can’t keep this up much longer.

  • R

    Rick PoerstelMar 5, 2024 at 3:34 PM

    If the tourists stop coming goodbye to the economy.

  • A

    Abraham RagasaMar 5, 2024 at 3:34 PM

    The brainwashed locals by their elected officials. What is sad is they are not aware that their own leaders are behind their missed directed hostility against tourist. The Hawaii government wants tourist monies but also need the local votes. So the Governer’s solution is to blame the tourist for all the perceived damages to Hawaii’s environment i.e., climate change. The fact that he proposed a $50.00 tourist fee is an example. The Legisatures compromise is $25.00 per tourist and local votes. A win-win for the Democrats. There is no meaningful plans to lowering the cost of living for locals. But, that’s OK because locals are too busy hating tourist. Good one!

    • P

      PatyMay 19, 2024 at 1:12 PM

      You are absolutely correct!! Brilliant!